Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cursed, Cursed Ultrasounds

Yesterday was my 18 week anatomy scan - the "big" ultrasound where gender is revealed, if the baby is cooperating. I was nervous - surprise, surprise! - because there is nothing like lying in a dark room with a technician, her brow furrowed, concentrating, not speaking, while you wait for her to say something like, "I'm sorry, your baby only has half a heart," or " looks like your baby is missing an arm," or something devastating like that.

As for wanting a boy or girl...I really didn't care; boy, girl, hermaphrodite, gay cross dressing tap dancer, just HEALTHY, please. Towards the end of the process, the technician says, "Well, the legs are crossed, but I think it's a girl."

A girl! Maybe! Which means a larger pool of names to choose from (we have exhausted our boy names; this boy might have been Cinco. Or Hey You.), and much fresher hand-me-downs.

Then the technician leaves to get the doctor, and I'm lying there, gunked up belly, wondering what terrible diagnoses the doctor will have. Finally, after the longest 8 minutes ever, the doctor comes in and takes a look. She is concentrating on the left ventricle of the brain. She sees a little spot called a "Choroid Plexus Cyst." AAAAAAAARGH.

These little fluid filled "spots" are usually harmless, and almost always go away on their own. However, they are also weakly linked to a genetic disorder, Trisomy 18, which is fatal in the first year of life. Woo hoo!

So I will return in 6 weeks to make sure this little sucker is no longer there. One would think I would not be concerned - both my third and fourth babies had these cysts, too, which later disappeared - but I am still nervous. Every pregnancy is a new pregnancy, replete with the potential for loss and horror...

But everything will be fine with this little girl. Right?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Open Letter to Jillian Michaels

Dear Jillian:

I have to admit when I first heard your comment about pregnancy - that you couldn't "handle doing that to (your) body" - I was a bit taken aback.

Really, Jillian? You make THAT sound like contracting a venereal disease. Or, worse for you, eating a gallon of lard with a spoon every day.

But Jillian, you know what? I don't think you're trying to make us lumpy breeders feel like a bunch of bovines. I think you're actually just (sorry, Jillian) CHICKEN. Adoption is a wonderful thing. But I wouldn't let fear prevent you from having a biological child too. Really, if you take the long view, it's not that bad. Yes, it sucks donger gaining weight. It stinks feeling like you're no longer attractive to your husband or other men. It is depressing when your body is screaming for ice cream, and a salad makes you feel like puking up a lung. And that's just the weight gain. I won't even go into the gas that can fall a forest, the hemorrhoids, or the varicose veins that can make you qualify as an extra on E.T.

But you are still YOURSELF. Even when you're pregnant. Even when you are a postpartum, slightly schizophrenic new mommy. So for you? That probably means you won't gain more than 25 pounds. You will probably be able to maintain your grueling workout regime right up until you deliver. And you'll probably be back kickboxing and doing crazy ab things with a 6 week old attached to you.

And here's a secret: do you know how many calories WORRYING burns? Or sleepless nights? Or feeding all your kids first so that there's no food left and you are consigned to eating crumbs off the floor? Or racing a feverish kid to the doctor in lieu of a nice fat cocktail? Jillian, I am THINNER than before I had kids (well, except when I'm pregnant. Which is every other month).

People also hold moms to a lower standard for some reason. You may be hot now, but hot with a baby on your hip? People will FREAK OUT. "You look so GREAT for having a KID!" they will shriek.

FINALLY, Jillian, think of the mint you could make on pregnancy workouts. And postpartum get back in shape workouts. There is some serious cheddar there, girl.

So give it some thought, Jilly, before you totally rule it out. You're welcome for all the free advice.



PS: Don't worry, I have long since forgiven you for the sit up incident.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Get Me a Potty to Clean! Stat!

I have this awful, time sucking habit of trolling the September 2010 birth club on Babycenter. Why do I do this? All it is a bunch of women sharing what they had for lunch, or what they're "craving." And then there is the occasional sad story about a women who discovers a problem with her pregnancy. Which is just awful. And then there are the women discussing RIDICULOUS baby names. Phayth, anyone? I wish I could stop, but I think this pathetic addiction must relate to some primal need to feel somehow connected to another woman - ANY woman - who is pregnant at the same time as you are. Anyhoo, one of the women on there was thinking of getting a cleaning lady after her baby was born. Another chimed in: "I would LOVE to have a cleaning lady! Then I could play with my kids ALL DAY LONG!" AAAAAAAAAAARGH, I thought.

I HATE playing with my kids. There, I said it. I am happy to talk to them all day long. I love having them around and interacting with them. I'll read to them, feed them, bathe them, clean up after them. Help them with a puzzle. Take them to a park. But if I am enlisted to play "battle" or "be the bad guy" I want to gouge my eyes out. If I agree at all, I can only last five minutes before I plead some chore I have to do.

(The sole exception is Hide and Seek. If you find a good hiding place, you can sit in an oasis of calm dark peace for several long minutes.)

So imagine how thrilled I was the other day when I found ALL FOUR of my children playing together:

True, it had never happened before and probably won't happen again for three months. But those few minutes before someone slugged someone? Bliss. And to hope that they will have some of that camaraderie the whole of their lives, that there will always be some sibling to talk to...that, my friends, is one reason to have a lot of children.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Enough Naval Gazing. On to Accessorizing!

I apologize for all the sobby solipsism around here lately, my friends! Today the rains have departed and the sun is out, so my buoyancy has returned. In fact, you could probably chart the level of cloud cover outside with the mood of this blog and find a direct correlation. If you were really bored.

The Brothers Nordstrom, using their extrasensory retail powers, must sense my upbeatness today, and sent me an email with all sorts of pretty spring pastel baubles:

Spring shoes! Even a misshapen pregnant blob can enjoy buying these. And don't give me any guff about falling down. I WON'T.

Ditto with happy spring handbags:

And look at these beachy peachy necklaces:

Alas, here's where I have to draw the line:

I have never been able to figure out how to accessorize my hair. I am permanently scarred by my mother's early attempts to tame my mass of frizz into very unfortunate pigtails. I would probably end up looking like this:

So maybe YOU can buy some headbands, my friends, without freaking people out. I shall applaud you wholeheartedly, with my boring, unaccessorized hair.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Make Money Without Really Trying

I'm at the point in my pregnancy...oh, hell, perhaps my LIFE, where I'm feeling a bit...restless. Blah. BORED. Well, not bored, exactly, but less than stimulated by the feeding/changing/laundering/nagging/vacuuming/rinse/
repeat routine around here. Usually I'm quite content with sloshing through all the kiddie muck and admin; but right now the glimpse of the future is of never ending diapers and infinite homework tussles. My mind needs something else to chew on besides these dang kids. So I'm trying to figure out how to vault myself out of this little trough.

I don't want anything as ambitious as a full time job. Hah! But I need something more than a weekly yoga class. A class which, by the way, I made it to about 50% of the time before I finally gave up. It's just too hectic here on certain weeknights, what with soccer practice, homework, piano, dinner, clean up, and the 39 hour bedtime routine for me to escape regularly. And that's part of the problem: if it's not something I HAVE to go to, there's a million and seven reasons NOT to.

So what am I looking for, exactly? I DON'T KNOW! Something more than a hobby or dalliance. A part time job? Perhaps, but what? Something I enjoy, and brings in a bit of cheddar...

Oh, I guess that's what EVERY at-home mother is looking for, right? So...any ideas for me?

I don't even know why I'm admitting to a touch of listlessness. Last time I did, we all got the stomach flu. Not exactly the mental stimulation I'd been looking for.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Of Bullies and Ladybugs

My second son, Rory, taciturn, quiet, prone to giving his brothers a wallop when he's finally had ENOUGH from them, has a surprising soft spot for both little creatures and his little sister. The Easter bunny brought him this for Easter:

This is "Ladybug Land," a habitat for the little bugs from their larval to adult stages. Rory has been lovingly dripping water drops into the little dome for two weeks now, and when they finally all "hatched," he decided he wanted to bring them to show his fellow kindergartners. So we agreed I would drive him to school and accompany him so he could show off his pets, and then I would take the ladybugs home.

During our usual morning mayhem, Rory's younger brother took his Happy Meal Dragon toy. Rory got on top of him and started to hit him, all the while holding onto his Ladybug habitat. I grabbed Rory off his brother, which caused him to drop Ladybug Land. The sealed dome came flying off, and suddenly we have many many ladybugs crawling all over the family room.

After several minutes of ladybug reconnaissance mission, punctuated by my eldest's screams - "I HATE ladybugs!" - to which we all cried "WEENIE!" - for freak's sake, who is afraid of a LADYBUG? (yes, we are big on self esteem here) - we had gathered the little critters up into their dome with the now removable lid. Off we precariously went to school.

Now, Rory has a little nemesis in his class: we shall call him Grayson. This child is over a YEAR older than Rory. Why? Oh, don't get me started, my friends. He was held back, "red shirted," because "he wasn't READYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY" for kindergarten. I LOATHE this practice of holding back children (usually boys) with summer birthdays, so they will have a leg up in school - in essence, so they will be the biggest and smartest. BECAUSE THEY ARE THE OLDEST. Now, if a child truly has a developmental delay, that's one thing. But the majority of the children I've seen held back are just fine. They are simply bigger than everyone in their class. And bored. And what does a bored, big kid become? A bully. A bully, who bullies MY children, all by far the youngest in their classes. GRRRRR.

So we arrive at class, the children swarm Rory and his bugs, and Grayson tries to grab the habitat away from Rory. Predictably, the dome comes off. We are able to get the dome on before many bugs escape, but squish one bug in the process of reattaching the dome. Rory is holding back tears.

So I leave after showing the kids the ladybugs and trying to comfort Rory. On the way home, the dome pops off AGAIN. So I end my morning frantically gathering ladybugs from inside the car.

Now Mama Bear will retreat back into her cave. After I eat a bully or two.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Huh. It's Tax Day.

For many years, before my third child was born (three children being the point where daycare becomes financially ridiculous unless you are a CEO or Angelina Jolie), I toiled as a CPA. Toiled is a strong word, perhaps - CPA work isn't ditch digging I suppose. But ask any haggard, frazzled CPA on April 8 what they would rather be doing, and I can guarantee you they'd rather be digging a ditch. Preferably their own.

I worked with "high net worth individuals" (read: filthy rich) and their estate planning and gifting strategies. The work could be interesting, but it also meant a labor-intensive "busy season" with very highly complex tax returns in the months before April 15.

I would begin to dread the hours and work of busy season starting in November. Come March, I would be bordering on suicidal. And finally...the light at the end of the tunnel...April...and then! APRIL 15! The most glorious day in the calendar year, where CPAs everywhere, exhausted, wan, pale, dark roots exposed, would stumble out into the sunlight and head to the nearest bar. From which they would not emerge until they were falling down drunk. Or asleep.

My dear friend Karri, who still toils, reminded me of the April 15 I brought a box of Franzia into the office and set it up in my cube. My gosh, that was a bit ballsy, in retrospect! Couldn't that have really irked some stuffy old audit partner? I guess I was counting on the zombie-like trance that most CPAs are in April 15. And, indeed, no one seemed to care. I could have brought in some joints, too, to pass around.

I suppose I wasn't a bad CPA before I had children. But once I had children, I don't think you would want me doing your taxes if they involved much more than a W-2 and a couple of 1099s. When working through a particularly stinky return, I would always have half a brain on my two little boys, who I imagined were languishing in daycare, uncared for and unloved, despite all evidence to the contrary.

I do miss parts of my old job: I miss the camaraderie you felt with others at 10 pm at night while slugging over some awful tax conundrum; I miss the trust and friendship I formed with clients; I miss the carnival-like bacchanalia of April 15. Oh, and I miss those after-work happy hours. I had a special talent for those.

So, a toast to all my dear CPA friends (hi Karri, Cyndi, Drinda, Eric, Dan, Roy, Chris, et cetera...!) today! Go drink an inappropriate amount of booze. And then get laid - I know it's been awhile!

Or just go take a long nap. Whatever you prefer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keane and Mama, Hooky Day 2010

I let my kids play hooky today. PVT highly discourages this practice, but hey. Hopefully they will be a cardiologist and aeronautical engineer, respectively, which means they'll be in school for the next 48 years. So what's a day or two in second grade?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

There Are No Victims. Only Volunteers.

I've been feeling a A bit off lately. Freaked out. Out of sorts. Verklempt? There is a pregnant woman down the street who is about to pop any day...if I hadn't lost my other baby, I would be about to pop too. So I'm a bit wistful. Although if I hadn't lost that baby, I wouldn't be pregnant with this one. Which is a bit of a brain twister. And I can't imagine what a train wreck I'd be, approaching the due date, if I weren't pregnant.

But then, when I think about being pregnant the WHOLE ENTIRE SUMMER, I start to hyperventilate. The last time I was pregnant ALL SUMMER, I was a) living in Portland, where summers are less hot, humid and atrocious; and b) I was working, sans kids, in a lovely air conditioned building, where I would do a bit of work and take a snack or lunch break every hour. Now? I'm facing the sticky inferno that is Oklahoma in June, July and August, with four children boring into me with their eight sticky hands, their every request, every desire, every need for entertainment. ALL THE TIME. Which is hard enough when I'm not pregnant, but pregnant? The heat makes me dehydrated, which makes me queasy and prone to Braxton Hicks contractions. My left leg, which has swollen up with the most disgusting varicose veins since my third pregnancy, becomes very uncomfortable to walk on. So how am I going to do all this STUFF for and with my kids, and...survive?

I know, I know. You're thinking: sheesh, she is a ball of fun. And WHY DOESN'T SHE JUST STOP HAVING KIDS?

Erm. Good point.

Yes, I'm being dramatic. I will make it through. Maybe I can find a little help. We have swimming lessons, a week of camp for my eldest, a week in Seattle. Day by day, I keep telling myself.

It's not really working. I'm still petrified.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Before You Decide to Beget Multiple Sons

Every seven days, I make a chilling, soul-sucking pilgrimage to Wal Mart, with perhaps a little fill in stop or two in between. Here is my refrigerator on Day 6:

My sons haven't yet hit double digits, let alone puberty. How am I going to feed them THEN? Just mud wrestle a pig every few days and stick it in the man fridge, to roast over a spit that night? And the expense! We blow through about $300 per week now in groceries; what about in 5 years? I'll have to start a porn blog. Or moonlight as a pole dancer. Just to FEED my children.

Oh. And yes, feel free to make snarky comments about our high-falutin' taste in fine wine.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Outfitting My Daughter, Trailer Park Ingenue, and Her Brothers

Yesterday my eldest had a 2nd grade field trip to the local flight museum. Apparently many mothers accompanied the class. (Is this a good thing? Isn't part of the thrill of being seven years old going somewhere WITHOUT your mom? Anyhoo.) Being the lazy, self-indulgent, rebel mom that I am, I did not go. I stayed home and smoked my Marlboros and had a early morning G&T or two.

Well, I wish. But I did have a good excuse to skip this particular expedition: it was the first day to redeem GYMBUCKS.

I think this pile will last the monsters for a month or two, at least, although the rate at which they shred clothing is fairly alarming.
And now, drumroll is my little toothless wonder, my native Oklahoman:

She pulls off the hillbilly look pretty well, doesn't she?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

REALLY Abysmal Mothering. Or Just Bad Karma.

I am pretty vigilant about watching my children - particularly Colette - when we are out and about. Or at a playground.

But at home...I'm not by them every second. It's HOME. Colette is long past the age where she puts everything in her mouth, and navigates stairs beautifully. So I will know vaguely what she and brother Will are doing as I go about crumb duty or laundry reconnaissance, and if I don't, I'll check on them after seven minutes or so.

Well, I guess seven minutes is too freaking LONG sometimes. (Yes, this is more foreshadowing. Can you believe the harrowing drama around here lately?)

Yesterday, I was looking up an address. I heard them playing in Colette's room, and went to check on them - about 47 seconds too late. Will was in the crib, and I was too far away still to catch Colette, who was tumbling out of the crib - maybe she was trying to follow him in?

I wasn't concerned at all at first; it's not a long fall, and she landed on a pile of blankets, for freak's sake. But when I picked her up, her face was covered in blood. I thought it was her nose. No. It was her tooth.


I got the bleeding to stop, and after a while she was just fine - minus a TOOTH, of course. I, however, was a wreck: she's only ONE and a HALF! Those permanent teeth are not coming in for a LONG time! Will this affect how she can eat? Her speech development? And the tooth - I guess she swallowed it? Is THAT OK?

And - I didn't realize how important this was to me - how will this affect her general red headed gorgeousness? Will kids make fun of her? Will she be old enough to care? Ugh - I was a wreck, crying intermittently and gnashing my teeth - WHY hadn't I gotten there sooner? Why wasn't I paying more attention? My poor beautiful BABY GIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL!

After a flurry of phone calls and a visit to the pediatric dentist, I feel much better. She will eat just fine. Her speech most likely won't be affected. And if we want to, we can get her a little false tooth after her two year molars come in. And, as my eldest said, she didn't lose BOTH front teeth, Mom. It wasn't a PERMANENT tooth.

AARGH. I guess I just feel lucky that it wasn't worse. And who knows what horrors I've saved my children from before, unbeknownst to me.

I can't bring myself to take a picture of her yet, though. Give me time. I'm hoping she's cute enough to pull of the goofy chipmunk look for a few years, though.

So stop reading this. Go check on your kid right now. And make sure all of his or her teeth are present and accounted for.

Monday, April 5, 2010

You Forgot To Remind Me I'd Morph Into a Double Wide

You realize that of course you will gain weight when you are pregnant. After all, you are growing a small PERSON inside you. That, and you need extra fat reserves in case of famine (which seems highly unlikely in a) America, and b) Tulsa, where you were introduced to that modern marvel, the sausage roll). And, of course, your hooters get huge in anticipation of the Grand Opening of the 24 Hour All You Can Guzzle Milk Bar.

So, you stop weighing yourself often. When you do, you note the number climbing up. It doesn't bother you much. You have been pregnant before. And you're not one of those girls who doesn't gain weight in the first few months. Nope - you pack on three pounds four minutes after you get a positive pregnancy test.

And then, one day, you casually step on the scale - you realize it's been a while. And you see a number so foreign, so....LARGE, that you jump off the scale like it's on fire. You are in shock, despite the fact that you knew, logically, this moment was coming. You wonder why no one has mentioned that you look like you grilled an entire eight year old boy and ate him single handedly for your Easter feast.

Resignedly, you retire to the kitchen and peel open your 8th string cheese of the day. You realize that you will not be anything resembling svelte, you will not be anything resembling HOT, for a LONG, LONG time. In fact, by the time you lose all this baby weight, you will probably be so OLD it won't even matter. Except to some wizened guy in a nursing home.

Ah, well. It will be worth it.


Hope your Easter was Happy, by the way.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Abysmal Mothering, Part II

I am very fair. I spent a good deal of my childhood attempting to bleach freckles with lemon juice and sporting second degree sunburns. PVT is fair. He's already had a wee melanoma burned off his back.

So. You think I'd be hypervigilant about sunscreen with my four flaxen-haired, blue-eyed, albino children?


(They don't look like they've been roasted over a spit in this shot, do they? Trust me. It's mortifying.)

After FIVE HOURS on the sunny soccer fields today (DUH ME!), they were all sporting little lobster faces, charred necks and Coke Can Red forearms.

AARGH. And I was thinking they might be chilly today.

It always takes me a burn to get into the sunscreen mode again.

Gloat away, my friends. Gloat away.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Worry Down. Just 3,291 Left to Go.

I got some reassuring news today: my first trimester (nuchal translucency) ultrasound and the related blood work showed that this baby has very low risk for Down's Syndrome or other chromosomal nightmares. The risk is 1 in 4,000 or something. Even I can't lie awake and night and worry about those odds.

Ever since I had my 2nd son at the age of 30, I've been petrified I would have a child with Down's Syndrome. Why? Because it is a completely random occurrence over which I have no control. And because I know I am a weak and shallow person. I would worry about the attendant medical problems that a Down's baby could have. I would worry about who would take care of a child with special needs after PVT and I go to the Big Nordstrom in the Sky. I would worry about reactions to the child's appearance - my own and others'. I would worry I would be impatient with a child who didn't learn like my other children.

In the end, I know, I would fall in love with PVT's child, my child, no matter what challenges or differences the child was born with. But I'm still relieved I won't likely face THIS challenge. This time.

Then I catch myself thinking: if I can have a healthy baby NOW, maybe I can crank out ONE more child before I'm 40...?

I'm kidding.

I think.

Like when PVT said we'd stop having children when we finally had twins.

He was kidding.

I think.